Chris and I have different preferences and opinions when it comes to anime. One thing we do have in common is that Inuyasha is among the first batch of anime that we watched. Now that venerable series has finally ended, and along with it an era in anime history. At least, it felt like the end of an era because the last episode was a long time in coming.
But before I get into my thoughts on the final episode (some of what is to come contains spoilers, so fair warning.), let me give my thoughts on the series in general. All in all, I thought Inuyasha was pretty good. Not great, not bad, just pretty good. As far as plot, it is pretty straightforward. Inuyasha and Kagome seek the fragments of the Shikon jewel, a bauble that can grant wishes, in order to destroy it once and for all, while their great rival Naraku also seeks the jewel for his own ends. Along the journey to defeat Naraku, Inuyasha and Kagome run across several friends and even more enemies, engaging in epic battles and “leveling up” to face Naraku.
For his part, Naraku is one of the more interesting anime villains out there, in part due to his unique powers. He is a half demon who can basically absorb other demons and use their bodies and powers. He is ridiculously hard to kill because he is able to rebuild his body and change his shape to fool the heroes. Really, the heart of Naraku’s power is his conniving ways. He is always one step ahead of the heroes, especially Inuyasha, who is a pretty typical hot-headed Shonen character. Still, that dynamic got a little repetitive, and I thought Naraku devolved into a sort of mustache-twirling baddie like Aizen, who is basically nasty to be nasty (though he does get a redemptive moment in the finale.)
While I said Inuyasha and his group engaged in epic battles, I need to be clear–the battles were not like those in Bleach or DBZ Kai. They were usually over fairly quickly, and tended to be more about finding a clever way to beat a foe rather than to simply beat the tar out of them. Perhaps this is because the emphasis was somewhat less on the plot and more on the relationships between the characters. In this way, Inuyasha was more of a Shojo than a Shonen. The key dynamic in the series had more to do with whether or not Inuyasha and Kagome would end up together than whether or not they’d find the jewel. This made for an interesting dynamic, where there was a strong romantic element for those who enjoyed that sort of thing, yet enough action to keep Shonen fans interested. This perhaps explains Inuyasha‘s longevity. That, and its long stint on the back end of Adult Swim, the 5am Inuyasha “power hour.”
My biggest problem with Inuyasha was more to do with pacing than plot. I was surprised to learn that Inuyasha only had about 150 or so episodes under its belt when the final cut came out. It felt like the show was about as long as Bleach, mostly because it had a pretty leisurely pace. That, and the final cut was delayed for several years. Perhaps the delay did more to give the sense that the series was drawn out than anything else. A person can only take so many reruns.
Compared to the rest of the series, Inuyasha: Final Cut had a break neck pace. To me it felt rushed. There were times that I honestly thought I missed an episode because the episodes jumped around so much. It still felt like Inuyasha, but it was definitely Inuyasha on fast forward.
Now that we got all that out of the way, how do I feel now that Inuyasha is over? It was a bit bittersweet. I do have to say that the ending itself was very satisfying. It ended how you would expect, but they pulled it off in a way that kept you guessing and kept you interested. The writers also managed to neatly tie off all the plot threads. There’s neither room nor need for a sequel–Inuyasha: Final Cut is aptly named.
On a more personal level, Inuyasha was a part of my teenage years. I remember talking about it with friends my freshman year of high school, along with Ghost in the Shell, Full Metal Alchemist and Cowboy Bebop, among others. Chris and I spent late nights watching anime; sometimes, those hours were the most peace and quiet we were able to get. So, I feel a sort of fondness for Inuyasha, rather like how I feel toward old shows like the Super Mario Bros Super Show and Transformers—stuff I watched as a kid that probably didn’t age well, but I remember warmly nevertheless. While never great, Inuyasha was a stalwart show, something that was always on and was usually entertaining in its own unique way. Now that it’s over, it’s a little like some small part of my childhood has also ended. Perhaps, though, this ending will make room on Toonami for newer and more unique shows to fill the gap left behind. A fan can hope, right?